Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently led a bicameral group of nearly 80 lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to reverse his administration’s expansion of Title 42 immigration policy and to abandon the proposed asylum “transit ban” rule.”
The Democratic lawmakers say they want the President and his administration to work with Congress to ensure they develop safe, humane, and orderly border policies that enforce U.S. immigration laws and uphold the right to asylum under domestic and international law.
“President Biden is reversing his promise to restore access to asylum at our Southern Border,” said Menendez. “We recognized that the U.S. is experiencing a migration challenge at the Southern Border (and) that President Trump made a top priority to dismantle border asylum and processing as we know it.”
Disagreement with Biden
“Anyone that tells you that the only way to secure our borders is to publish asylum seekers is lying,” he said. “It is why we are appalled to see President Biden replicate President Trump’s immigration strategy. The right to seek asylum is enshrined in international and domestic law.”
President Biden newly announced policy includes the expansion of a humanitarian parole process originally created for Venezuelans to include individuals from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua that allows up to 30,000 people per month to enter the United States and stay for up to two years once vetted and approved, as long as they apply through an app from their home countries. Additionally, the State Department announced a new private sponsorship program that will allow Americans to sponsor refugees already approved through the traditional admissions process.
Title 42 Continued Use
But the most constroverly part of the Biden plan is that it will continue to enforce Title 42, a health order from the Trump Administration that allows for the speedy expulsion of migrants at the border to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The continuation of Title 42 was most vexing to the members of both the House and Senate who signed that letter to the White House that stated “circumvents domestic law and international law…human rights groups have extensively documented more than 10,000 violent attacks—including kidnappings, serious assaults, and deaths—against individuals who were expelled to or blocked in Mexico.”
“Last year President Biden promised to end Title 42. Instead, he is now expanding restrictions on asylum seekers,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This administration is making it effectively impossible to seek refuge at our border…. President Biden should listen to the courts and human rights advocates and reverse course.”
Transit Ban Pushback
The other issue raised was a so-called transit ban requiring asylum seekers to first apply for asylum in a transit country instead of allowing them to seek their legal right to asylum at our southern border.
“The courts rightly rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to categorically end asylum when he similarly required asylum seekers to seek asylum in transit countries,” they wrote. “At the time of this ruling, countries across the Western Hemisphere were unable to meet such requirements. There does not appear to be evidence to show that country conditions in transit countries have improved.”
“The fundamental values that distinguish us from other nations (is that we are) a light to what great democracies are and who great people can be,” said Booker, noting how modern day immigration law were codified after a boat filled with those fleeing from the Holocaust was turned away. “The extension of Title 42 is putting people in crisis, in danger….they are living a nightmare.”
“This is the time that we should be setting an example…and living our values. This is a time that calls for consciousness, calls for leadership, and calls to the heart of the country.”
The letter concludes with the members of Congress imploring the Biden Administration to “continue to expand legal pathways for migrants and refugees into the United States—without further dismantling the right to seek asylum at our border. This right is a pillar of the post-war international order to which the United States has committed itself. We are ready to work with you to ensure that we can have a safe, humane, and orderly border that upholds the right to asylum.”